How to Appoint a Reliable, Professional and Skilled Tradesman

Plumbers, builders, electricians and locksmiths are all vital trades for domestic and business situations emergency plumber. However, finding a skilled and affordable professional who is also reliable and trustworthy isn't always a straightforward process. Most tradesmen and women meet these criteria, but sadly their industry's reputation has been tarnished by stories of unscrupulous behaviour.

From starting, but not completing, projects to adding extra costs to the bill once the work is finished, these individuals and companies have been a common source of investigation from the likes of TV programmes like BBC's Rogue Traders. However, not all of them have been identified, making your job of choosing a plumber, builder, electrician or locksmith a potentially tricky task.

1. The first step is to avoid anyone who knocks your door offering to do work for you. This is not how professional organisations tend to court businesses and, in most cases, the better professionals will have plenty of work to keep them going without the need to door-to-door.

2. If you do get approached, it's a good idea to get as many details about the company as you can. Get an address, a phone number, website address, a full name of the contact and even the licence plate of their vehicle. This will come in handy later on.

3. Avoid giving them your details at this stage. If they've knocked your door, then obviously they know your address. But avoid giving out your phone number until you feel comfortable to do so.

4. However, where possible, you will be in a much stronger position if you are able to launch your own search for your builder, electrician, plumber or locksmith. A great place to start is by using an online business directory. You can narrow your search by location, so you can use a company that's located near where you live and get all the details you need to do some thorough research. Plus, it gives you chance to do some research before any pressure comes from the companies you're considering.

5. Even if you have been approached by a tradesman, it's a good idea to compare them with others, so use a directory to add more names to your shortlist.

6. It's also well worth asking the people you know whether they can recommend a tradesman to you. Perhaps they've used a plumber that offered exceptional service, or a builder that did a great job on budget and in time.

7. They may also help to steer you away from tradesmen that may not be suitable. They may have had a bad experience with a particular team of builders or feel they don't have the expertise to help you. This insight could be massively helpful in finding not just a reliable tradesman, but the right tradesman for the job.

8. Once you have a shortlist of names, it's time to do your homework. Google the names of the businesses and individuals you know about. It's also worth contacting the relevant trade body, such as the Federation of Master Builders or the Electrical Contractor's Association to make sure the business is registered with them.

9. Which? recommends checking whether the firm you're talking to is approved by TrustMark - a scheme that checks a firm's financial situation, dispute resolution scheme and technical ability.

10. Make sure you get any quote in writing and, before you agree to any work, have them draw up a contract that you read fully. Make sure the quote that's in place cannot be increased as the job progresses.

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